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How Can I Make a Difference? 3 Ideas to Move from Overwhelmed to Empowered

Two weeks ago, I posted this video about the reality of sex work in Bangladesh. Reactions to something heavy & sad like this can be varied: one key response being discouragement.

So much suffering! So much injustice! Systematic issues I cannot begin to solve!

Plainly: yes. Of course this is true.

How can I make a difference in the face of big problems? We can be tempted to stick our heads in the sand, because otherwise the scale of issues becomes all too overwhelming.

There is also an undercurrent in our culture that says it must be “all or nothing.” Anything in between is slapped with the greatest of insults: hypocrisy. Words without actions are meaningless, and even worse: an action that in any way betrays your words is crucible!

I obviously don’t think well-intentioned people should be puffed up with big talk and no action (raising awareness, anyone?). But, I also disagree with such a simplified reaction. In reality, we live in constant tensions!

So, how can we move from overwhelmed to empowered?

I’ve recently come into contact with a not-for-profit project out of Florida called Project Hazina. Jessica & her husband Chris, were facing the same question – “How can I make a difference?” – and struck on one simple goal: to provide pillows & blankets to orphans.

In their success, they have been able to provide not only pillows & blankets, but mattresses & beds as well. On the question of whether such a simple goal is “enough”, they cut straight to the point:

Bedding is such a “small thing” in many eyes, but when you don’t have it, it suddenly becomes a lot higher on your priority list. Critics have suggested that Project Hazina is not a good idea and not a real solution to poverty.

Although providing pillows and blankets to orphans won’t change the world with all of its social and political problems, it will speak love and bring blessing to deserving people who would otherwise not have a bed, mattress, pillow and blanket. We are showing love, step-by-step, to those who may feel forgotten or are in a desperate place.

We won’t back down despite criticism of Project Hazina’s design. For the sake of one less child sleeping in the dirt, using a ragged shirt as a blanket or sleeping on a 15-year-old disgusting mattress full of bugs and urine, we will move forward with our original intentions.

"All of my life I covered up with a scarf. I never dreamed that God would give me my own pillow and blanket."

You do not need to start a non-profit or run a business to make a difference. The good work of the world is almost always accomplished like this, step-by-step, one blanket at a time. So, no discouragement, no overwhelming paralysis. Just onwards.

    • Brainstorm ideas with a friend, partner, or your family: use grocery points to buy food for the food bank; throw a birthday party with a beneficiary (this gala is so inspiring!); drink only fair trade coffee for a month. Spend a coffee date, meal conversation, or train ride brainstorming ideas that have tangible impact (but don’t require you to quit your job).
    • Are there any causes that you are currently involved with – even at a distance? Think of (or ask them about) one thing you can do: write a cheque, make a call, donate some items, volunteer an afternoon, share on social media, etc.
    • Shop good! In North America, even simple lives involve numerous money transactions throughout the week. For many of us, our dollars are the loudest voice by which we speak! Bit by tiny bit, add thoughtfulness to the what, where, & to whom of your spending. Start with one purchase!

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